Abortion rights and access vary greatly from state to state — and sometimes even within a state. Some states have enacted laws that target and burden abortion providers, forcing many clinics to close their doors. Others have banned specific safe abortion procedures or imposed arbitrary gestational cut-off dates after which one cannot legally have an abortion. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some states have expanded abortion access by requiring public and private insurers to cover the cost of abortion care. Colorado falls somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum.
Thanks to voters, abortion rights advocates and progressive lawmakers, Colorado does not have some of the most common abortion restrictions seen in other states. We do not have mandatory waiting periods, ultrasound requirements, arbitrary gestational limits, or restrictions on what types of safe abortion procedures medical providers can offer patients. Colorado does, however, have a few abortion restrictions that prevent many from accessing care — especially young people, Coloradans with public health insurance coverage, and our neighbors held in jails and prisons.
The biggest barrier to abortion access in Colorado is a state constitutional amendment that prohibits the use of public funds for abortion care. This means that Coloradans who get their health insurance through a government employer, those with state Medicaid coverage, and those who are detained in a state correctional facility cannot rely on their health insurance to cover any portion of the cost of abortion care. They must pay for the entire cost of care themselves or seek the financial assistance of a local or national abortion fund.
Colorado also restricts abortion access by requiring young people under the age of 18 to notify a parent or guardian before accessing care. (Note: the law requires parental notification only — not consent). Only a judge can waive this parental notification requirement. In reality, most young people choose to involve a parent without a legal mandate. Those who don’t may fear for their safety at home. Colorado’s parental notification requirement makes it harder for the most vulnerable teens to access the care they need.
Despite these obstacles to abortion access, most Coloradans believe that everyone should have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare — including abortion — and the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions free from political interference.
What are our goals for reproductive rights in Colorado?
For over a decade, Coloradans have continuously and decisively rejected attempts to ban abortion on the ballot and at the legislature. In November of 2020, Coloradans across party lines voted to soundly defeat Proposition 115, a ban on abortion later in pregnancy.
Through litigation, public education and legislative advocacy, ACLU of Colorado strives to ensure that everyone has the freedom and resources to make decisions about reproductive healthcare, forming intimate relationships, and building secure and healthy families. We work to protect and expand access to comprehensive sex education, contraceptive equity, abortion, and positive, equitable health outcomes for all who choose pregnancy. We oppose all efforts to erode these rights.
- Repeal the Colorado state constitution ban on abortion care to allow state funds to be used.
- Ensure our neighbors in Colorado jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers have access to abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare services.
- Continue to engage with community through skills training workshops and community events such as the Reproductive Rights Roadshow. The Reproductive Rights Roadshow provides us and community with a space to engage, connect and listen to the latest happening in community.
- Public Education and Know Your Rights training. We offer educational resources and free Know Your Rights trainings to inform community members of their Reproductive Rights and how to protect them.
Our Other Reproductive Rights Work
In recent years, Colorado has unfortunately become a prominent battleground for reproductive rights, as political extremists have attempted to force their beliefs on the rest of the state through the so-called “Personhood” ballot initiatives and, most recently, a ban on abortion later in pregnancy. The ACLU of Colorado has worked tirelessly with partners to soundly defeat these attempts to erode reproductive freedom in our state.
Learn more and get involved with moving beyond the bans in Colorado: https://beyondthebans.org/
Resources and information
- The Cobalt Abortion Fund
- Planned Parenthood
- 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
- National Abortion Federation
- Beyond the Bans